I know this is “so last year” but I think when home mods go really, really well, with everyone working together and you get a fantastic result for a happy participant, family and carers, it’s worth mentioning. Even if it is a little last year.

I had the pleasure of working with some great builders and one of our families on an NDIS bathroom modification project to their family home in Buderim QLD. The initial meetings with the family and OT, to scope out the works and come up with a workable design concept, started waaaay back halfway through 2019.

The NDIS home mods funding was approved in late March 2020, which was great but… unfortunately right at the beginning of social distancing restrictions and enforced community lockdowns throughout Queensland. This led the stakeholder group to have concerns and discussions about completing the bathroom mods with many “what if” questions raised and a lot of head scratching.

The very real possibility of the project not being fully completed, and the possible reality that the participant could be left with a non-functioning or a half-finished bathroom if tradespeople weren’t able to complete their work, was understandably a massive concern for everyone.

It was decided by the group to hold off on starting the project to get a better understanding of what impacts the restrictions may have on our local construction industry.

However, holding off starting the job had other consequences to consider. It was already determined that the participant would utilise a hired outdoor mobile ensuite shower during the construction phase. This meant that the further the project start was delayed, the closer it got to the colder weather going into winter. The stakeholder group decided to delay the project start date until spring 2020 to avoid the participant having to shower outside on the driveway through the colder months of the year.

accessible bathroom

OK, next issue… as NDIS funding is a finite sum, the decision to hold off starting construction then raised concerns as to whether the builder would be able to hold the quoted price, possibly for several months? Would fittings and fixtures increase in price dramatically due to COVID-19 restrictions? Would there be any or very limited supply of products if imports were affected? It was uncharted waters for all of us at this stage and no one really knew what to expect.

The builders were on it straight away and suggested if the deposit payment could be paid, they could then purchase all materials, fitting, and fixtures required and store the items at their warehouse until it was decided to proceed with the project – fantastic! The builders said that they had no real concerns about the labour component of the quote needing to increase and were happy to hold the price if we could pre-purchase the items we needed for the job. I thought this was going over and above but I get the feeling this is their normal mode of operation. 

As the participant’s home mods funding was plan managed, we explained the situation to their plan management team who were more than happy to help facilitate the idea of pre-purchasing all the items required for the build to hold the costs at the quoted price.    

I should point out at this stage that there was already an existing relationship between the builder and the participant’s family as they had been previously engaged to do an extensive renovation to the family home. This worked well, as the builders already knew the family’s requirements and daily routines. This enabled them to work around the family regarding noise etc to ensure a smooth build and tackle the really noisy demolition work when the participant was out of the house doing daily activities. Jackhammers are not quiet!    

The builders and family were also able to easily work out what additional self-funded (additional items outside the NDIS funding) items they wanted to include in the build, such as stone vanity benchtop and some additional wall tiling. 

So when I posed my usual question to the family after the bathroom design had been finalised of “Do you have any builders you would like to suggest to quote on your home mods?”, Accord Homes were quickly put forward as one of the candidates.    

We contacted the family in spring, to get the ball rolling again and come up with a plan. Construction started in late October and the job was completed in mid-to-late November. Our master plan had come off. Even with COVID-19 looming in the background we were still able to achieve a lovely, functional bathroom for the participant. It just took a little planning, great builders who think outside the box and want to do their best job for their clients, and an understanding, flexible family.

I always think you get the best results through collaboration and this job further reinforced my view.

accessible bathroom